Barcelona remains a work in progress under Xavi, and while there have been glimpses of brighter days ahead, there's still work to be done for this version of the team to catch this version of Real Madrid.
Barcelona battled back from a goal down on two occasions to Real Madrid in the semifinals of the Spanish Super Cup on Wednesday, forcing extra time in Saudi Arabia only for Federico Valverde to seize a third lead for Los Blancos in the latest edition of El Clásico. The 3–2 win was Real Madrid's 100th all-time in El Clásico, with the last five coming in successive meetings.
Wednesday's matchup dazzled for those craving an entertaining encounter. Luuk de Jong answered Vinicius Junior's opener, while Ansu Fati made his return and headed in the second equalizer after Karim Benzema's go-ahead strike, making for quite the spectacle in Riyadh. It was added to by Valverde, who was one of four Real Madrid players in position to finish off Rodrygo's cross from the right.
The match also marked the debut of new Barcelona signing Ferran Torres, who was able to be registered when Samuel Umtiti restructured his deal with the club and then overcame a positive COVID-19 test in time to make the trip for the match. Pedri, who had been out with an injury since Sept. 29, also made his return, coming on as a second-half substitute.
“We competed well," Barcelona veteran Gerard Piqué said after the match. “It's not the result we wanted but we are a step closer to winning. I'm very proud of our team. We have to leave with our heads up after the way we played against a Real Madrid team that is having a very good season."
Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti concurred, saying, "I have to admit that Barcelona played well. It was an even match. We were efficient on the counterattacks.”
Real Madrid faces either Atlético Madrid or Athletic Bilbao in the final of the Super Cup, which went to a four-team format beginning in 2019-20.
More Soccer Coverage: